Monday, August 10, 2015

Fusilli with Fresh Tomato Sauce & Ricotta Cheese

After college I moved to NYC to “grow up,” which means I worked three jobs in attempts to make rent & pay off student loans while having some fun too. Glamorous, right? One of my three jobs was waiting tables  in NYC’s Little Italy. During this time I survived on a few staples for dinner: cannolis, pasta dishes my boss would generously share with me & Chinese food from my favorite place a block away.

I really hadn't thought about these meals until I was watching Giada’s show on Food Network yesterday. She was in Italy making all kinds of pasta. The one dish that she made took me way back to my early twenties when I used to share fusilli (the long curly pasta) with tomato sauce & fresh ricotta with my boss. I easily ate this once or twice (maybe more) a week. Giada’s method was simple & straight forward so feeling nostalgic for it I recreated it from memory of what I learned earlier in the day. 

The one key method for making Giada's simple & super fresh tomato sauce sung out to my inner love of tomatoes - especially fresh summer tomatoes. She took fresh tomatoes & used a box grater to break them down for the sauce. Apparently if you do this in a fancy food processor or blender the heat from those kinds of appliances actually change the flavor of the tomatoes (& we don't want that). I had to try it. I did & I loved it. This maybe my new favorite way to make tomato sauce. It’s so easy & fresh that you’ll be making on the regular too. I think it’s time to get this dish back in my weekly rotation like when I first moved to NYC.

Do you have specific food that reminds you of your first “adult” years? I’d love to hear about them. Leave me a note in the comments below.

PS: remember if you make this pasta be sure to snap a pic & then tag me in your photos on instagram (@mrshoh or #HeatherOMade)!


Ingredients:
  • 5 vine ripe tomatoes, grated to make about 2 cups of pulp
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 small garlic cloves (or 3 large), smashed
  • 2/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces or chiffonade with a knife
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1 lb fusilli pasta
  • 1 cup pasta water reserved, optional

Make it!
  1. Heat a large pot of water. (Waiting for the water to boil with be the most challenging & time consuming part of this recipe so start it right away.)
  2. In a large heavy bottomed skillet heat the olive oil over low-medium heat with the smashed garlic cloves. Heat until  the garlic becomes fragrant & golden. If you don't care for chunks of garlic remove the garlic now. If you love it, leave it in.
  3. Using a box grater, grate the tomatoes into a medium sized bowl. Discard (or eat) any remaining tomato skins.
  4. Pour the tomato pulp & juices into the oil (be careful it might splatter so do this slowly.) 
  5. Season with salt & pepper. Taste your mixture to see if it needs more salt.
  6. Heat the tomatoes through. This will only take a few minutes.
  7. Add a good tablespoon or two of salt to the boiling water & add the pasta. Cook until al dente (about 8-10 minutes).
  8. In the meantime, turn the heat of the tomato sauce to low.
  9. Add the ricotta cheese & half the basil to the tomato sauce & stir until combined.
  10. Transfer the cooked pasta to the sauce & toss well.
  11. Mix in the grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Add some of the reserved pasta water if you want to thin out the sauce (optional).
  12. Top with the rest of the basil & serve immediately.















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